The Battle of Junk Mountain by Lauren Abbey Greenberg

With all the cold, icy, and rainy Maryland weather this week, The Battle of Junk Mountain was the perfect read.  I was transported to the Maine coast with 12-year-old Shayne on her summer vacation.  Shayne lives in Maryland and always spends summers on Thomas Cove with her grandmother Bea and her best friend Poppy.  Nostalgic for summers past, this vacation is different.   Poppy’s free time is limited because she has to work at her father’s grocery store. Bea is not ready to let go of her treasured collectibles  as Shayne is organizing  and pricing them for sale at a flea market. Then to her surprise, Shayne develops an unlikely friendship with Civil War obsessed Linc, the grandson of Bea’s neighbor Cranky.

The Battle of Junk Mountain is a definitely a page turner. Once I began, it was hard to stop reading. The novel starts with anticipation of a fun-filled summer but as you read each chapter (and by the way, pay close attention to each title),  Lauren begins to tackle not only familiar topics like changing friendships but also the serious topic of hoarding.  Readers will quickly fall in love with Shayne for she shows both maturity and vulnerability.  While she can tackle new situations like banding lobster claws and driving a boat, it is evident that Shayne like Bea is holding on to the past and apprehensive about change.  Growing up and letting go is hard, but Shayne learns that change can actually surprise you in a good way.

A sincere thank you to fellow Marylander Lauren Abbey Greenberg for sharing an ARC of her debut middle grade novel The Battle of Junk Mountain with my #bookexcursion group.  Look for its release in April 2018.

#Bookexcursion, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 2/5/18


Etta, Bella, and I are eager to share our latest reads for It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR is a community of bloggers who link up to share what they are reading. Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give it a #kidlit focus and encourage everyone who participates to visit at least 3 of the other #kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

Our Reads This Week:

The Mad Wolf’s Daughter by Diane Magras

Wee lass Drest and her family are attacked by knights from Faintree Castle.  Drest desperately wants to join her father, Mad Wolf of the North and her five brothers in this battle, but Mad Wolf orders her to hide. She witnesses her family bound, captured, and sailing away from her.  Her only hope of finding her family is a young knight named Emerick who Drest witnessed being attacked by one of his own men.  She strikes a deal with Emerick to take him to Faintree Castle and in return, he will release one of her brothers, although Drest plans to rescue her entire family.

Throughout their journey, Drest hears tales of her family’s brutality from Emerick, which she does not believe to be true.  In addition, a bandit by the name of Jupp shares his own story of her father’s cruelty.  Drest begins to realizes that words are strong weapons because not only is she beginning to doubt her family but also she is struggling to figure out her own identity. Can a warrior be brave and kind?

The Mad Wolf’s Daughter is an adventure that has action and heart.  With each chapter, Diane Magras kept me on the edge both excited and afraid to read on.  I absolutely love Drest who learns that you can’t always control our own legend, and sometimes words not swords can save lives.

A very special thanks to Diane Magras for providing our #bookexcursion group with an ARC of The Mad Wolf’s Daughter.  Pre-order NOW so you have it in your hands on March 6, 2018.

Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls by Beth McMullen

Abby Hunter is a student at Smith School for Children.  But it turns out that the boarding school is not what it appears to be.  The school is actually a cover for an elite spy ring named the Center.  And Abby’s mother, Jennifer, is the Center’s most talented agent.  At first, Abby cannot believe her mother hid her occupation from her, but as Abby looks back on her childhood, she begins to connect the dots.

For the past decade, Jennifer has been chasing the Ghost, a threatening criminal.  Mrs. Smith informs Abby that her mother is missing; therefore, they need Abby’s help in finding her.  During Spy Training 101, Abby does find a friend in Toby, a fellow student who is a whiz with technology.  His iPhone apps are amazing! But frenemy Veronica is less than enthused with teaching Abby.  After a failed attempt to locate her mom, Abby decides to take matters in her own hands and show everyone that she is indeed her mother’s daughter.

Beth McMullan’s new series is definitely one I will recommend to students.  In fact, after reading the synopsis, I have a student waiting for me to bring this book to school tomorrow. Taking place in present day, young readers will be able to relate to the characters even though the setting and plot is far different from their own lives.  Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls published in July 2017 but readers only have to wait until July 2018 for the second installment-Power Play. Can’t wait to read and share on Beagles and Books!

Featured Dog Selection of the Week

Wanting to spread the dog love, Beagles and Books has a weekly feature of highlighting a literary selection with a canine main character.


The Pillow Keeps Moving by Laura Gehl Illustrated by Christopher Weyant

A dog and cat are shivering outside of a pillow store.  While the cat stands guard, the dog enters the pillow store, curls up in the warmth, and is bought by a man.  When the man complains that his “pillow” is broken, the salesman asks him a series of questions which are all answered in the affirmative.  The story continues with the dog posing as a footstool and coat.  Finally, the man who lives alone realizes that the dog has other talents, as all dogs do!

Told with relatively few words, The Pillow Keeps Moving is a story that begs to be read again and again.  Readers must pay close attention to the illustrations because they are crucial to the plot.

The Pillow Keeps Moving was released in January 2018.  I can’t wait to read it as a pick for #classroombookaday with students.

Etta, Bella, and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books.  Have a great week!  Happy Reading!

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/29/18


Etta, Bella, and I are eager to share our latest reads for It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR is a community of bloggers who link up to share what they are reading. Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give it a #kidlit focus and encourage everyone who participates to visit at least 3 of the other #kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

Our Reads This Week:

11:11 Wish by Kim Tomsic

Megan is going through a lot of adjustments.  Her mom recently passed away and her family has moved from Colorado to Arizona.  Moving means leaving her best friend Hannah and starting over at a new middle school.

On her very first day, Megan gets zapped, which is a ritual for new students.  She must do a dare by the end of the day.  Her assignment-do something exciting by 3 p.m.  If that isn’t enough on her plate,  Megan becomes stuck in the middle of the battle for Spirit Week Captain between fellow seventh graders, Rhena and Ally.  Megan’s luck changes when in her history class, she sees a cat clock identical to one her grandmother had in her kitchen.  She recalls a rhyme that her grandmother said “Pop. Click. Seconds tick. Wish at eleven-eleven, and watch it stick.”  It can’t hurt to wish for something exciting like snow, right?  After her wish does comes true, Megan slowly realizes that this newly acquired magical power comes with some adverse consequences.

11:11 Wish is an enchanting story not only trying to fit in but also finding yourself. Readers will be sympathetic of  Megan’s dilemma.  She wants to have a fresh start at her new school and becomes caught up in Rhena and Ally’s rivalry as soon as she arrives.  As the drama unfolds at school, Megan needs to decide whether she wants to keep using magic to get friends or show her true self.

Special thanks to Kim Tomsic for providing our #bookexcursion group with an ARC of 11:11 Wish.  Look for its release soon on February 13, 2018.

Walter & Dragon: 100 Friends by Ariel Bernstein

Warren and his family are moving, which means he will need to make new friends.  But unlike his twin sister, Ellie, making friends does not come easy to Warren.  Besides, Warren already has a best friend, Dragon.  To everyone else, Dragon may be a stuffed animal, but to Warren, Dragon is real and he is the only one who sees Dragon in that way.

Making friends is a challenge, but losing a contest to Ellie is worse; therefore, Warren declares that he will make 100 new friends.   Accepting Dragon’s advice that friends like compliments, Warren attempts to make friends in school.  Warren’s compliments though are not always taken well. By the end of the first day of school, Warren hasn’t made any new friends, and Dragon goes missing!  Can Warren find his one and only friend? Will Warren ever make a real friend?

Warren & Dragon is a fun new transitional chapter book series that is sure to be a hit with young readers.  Author Ariel Bernstein has created a relatable character in Warren, for he encounters typical kid problems such as sibling rivalry and making friends. Warren’s relationship with Dragon show his imagination, for what child hasn’t pretended his/her favorite animal was alive?

Special thanks to author Ariel Bernstein for providing our #bookexcursion group with an ARC of Walter & Dragon: 100 Friends.  Look for its release along with Book 2 Warren & Dragon: Weekends with Chewy in August 2018.

The Boo-Boos That Changed the World: A True Story About An Accidental Invention (Really!) by Barry Wittenstein Illustrated by Chris Hsu

Did you ever wonder how Band-Aids were invented?  If so, you are in luck.  Author Barry Wittenstein humorously tells the story of Earle Dickson and how Band-Aids came to be.

It seems Earle’s wife, Josephine was accident prone especially in the kitchen. When preparing meals, it was common for Josephine to cut or burn herself. To make matters worst, bandaging herself with bulky towels caused her to injure herself even more.  Earle took pity on his young wife fearing her cuts would become infected.  Fortunately, for Josephine, Earle was not only the son of a doctor but also worked for a hospital supply company.  Ever hear of Johnson & Johnson?

After some thoughtful pondering, Earle designed the first “band aid” which consisted of adhesive tape, sterile gauze, and crinoline.  Josephine’s boo boos were now covered, and they lives happily ever after, right?  But..wait!  Earle realized that Josephine was not the only person who could benefit from his invention. He shared his bandage with his boss, James Johnson, who agreed to produce and sell them as Band-Aids.

To the readers’ surprise, Band-Aids were not an overnight success.  It was not until they were mass produced by a machine and given away to the Boy Scouts and the army during World War II that Band-Aids became a hit not just in the United States but all over the world!

Told in a playful narrative, Wittenstein’s account of Earle’s invention is highly engaging and entertaining.  In my district, our third graders just finished a unit, Inventions and Innovations so I cannot wait to share this book with students.  In the author’s note, Wittenstein admits he invented Earle and Josephine’s dialogue and shares additional information about Earle.  Chris Hsu’s illustrations transport the reader back to that time period and make the story come alive.  Also included at the end of the book is a timeline, a list of other medical inventions from the 1920s and 1930s, and websites for further research.  The next time I use a Band-Aid, I will think fondly of Earle and thank him for his ingenuity.

Special thanks to Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for providing our #bookexcursion group with a copy of The Boo Boos That Changed the World.  Look for its release soon in February 2018.

Love, Mama by Jeanette Bradley

Kipling’s mama is off on a trip and he misses her.  Although he tries to soothe himself with replacements such as Pillow Mama and Picture Mama, they do not comfort him. When the doorbell rings, Kipling discovers a sad, soggy box outside his home.  It’s from Mama! Contained in the package was a paper heart with a special message from Mama who reminds Kipling how immense she loves him.  Kipling returns the favor by creating and mailing his own box which professes his mutual love for her.  To Kipling’s surprise, Mama returns home with his care package in hand!

Love, Mama is a heartwarming story that affirms love when distance separates us from family.  Jeanette Bradley’s illustrations are adorable and tenderly show Kipling’s longing for his mother, his happiness when he receives his Mama’s special delivery, and his excitement when she returns home.  In fact, reading Love, Mama takes me back to a time when receiving a card or a package in the mail from a loved one was the best present ever.

Special thanks to author Jeanette Bradley for providing our #bookexcursion group with a copy of Love, MamaLove, Mama recently published in January 2018.

Featured Dog Selection of the Week

Wanting to spread the dog love, Beagles and Books has a weekly feature of highlighting a literary selection with a canine main character.

Back to Forth and Upside Down by Claire Alexander

It’s Principal Slippers’ birthday! Young pup Stan and his class are making him birthday cards.  Stan loves to draw but his teacher Miss Catnip reminds the class that cards include writing too. Uh oh!  As Stan begins to copy Happy Birthday from the board, he notices his letters are back to front and upside down.  Frustrated Stan is even more discouraged when all his other classmates seems to be writing with ease.

At recess, depressed Stan honestly confides to his classmate Jack that he can’t write.  Jack is supportive and tells Stan to ask Miss Catnip for help reminding him we all have to ask for help sometimes. The story ends with Stan bravely asking for help and realizing he is not the only student who struggles with writing letters.

Working with kindergarten and first grade students, I love the message of this book.  All students learn at a different pace so Back to Front and Upside Down reinforces that practice is the best way to improve a skill and it’s ok to ask for help.   Author illustrator Clare Alexander’s soft and cute drawings of the animal students will appeal to young readers.  I especially love the illustrations of Stan’s tongue out while writing, This behavior is quite common when I observe young students putting forth their best effort.

Etta, Bella, and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books.  Have a great week!  Happy Reading!